- South Africa can claim to have the world’s best gravel riding, with the Karoo and a treasure of gravel roads.
- But American cycling is powering ahead with a new series of professional gravel bike races.
- The Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) might have an odd name, but there’s no joke about the money on offer.
Since the pandemic, South Africa has seen its offering of gravel bike races blossom. And in America, the Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) is a notable event, now in its 12th year.
Routing from San Marcos into San Diego’s hill country, the
BWR California event is known as a Monument of Gravel.
Gravel riding was an oddity only a few years ago. Now, it has become the growth category in cycling.
Combining the speed and low-rolling resistance of traditional road bikes with an ability to ride off-road, gravel bikes go anywhere and everywhere.
Showing those South African gravel skills
This year, BWR California tallied an R800 000 prize purse and travelled for 212km, with 3352m of climbing, over two days of racing.
South Africa’s Matt Beers made a significant impression on the weekend during his BWR debut.
Drawing on his extensive Cape Epic riding experience, Beers powered to an impressive second-place finish.
Beers looks good for the American gravel season
The BWR California features a selection of very technical off-road sections, known as 'Californian cobbles' by the organisers. As an event, it tests both riding endurance and bike handling skills.
After his successful American gravel racing debut, Beers is scheduled to race at the gravellocos in Texas on 14 May, followed by the RuleofThree gravel race in Bentonville (Arkansas).
From cross to gravel
And the bike? Beers is on Specialized’s latest S-Works Crux.
Traditionally designed as a cyclocross bike, Specialized has repositioned the 2022 S-Works Crux. It is now marketed as more of a gravel racing bike, with its lightweight carbon frame and generous tyre clearance, ideally suited to off-road endurance events.
The S-Works Crux has a threaded bottom bracket, similar to many mountain bikes. Although many road and gravel bikes have pressfit bottom brackets, to save weight, these can develop an annoying creak when exposed to dust.
Specialized’s product planners opted to configure the latest S-Works Crux with a threaded bottom bracket, for greater durability and easier maintenance.